“Triumph in affliction.”
Too beautiful to behold thought Simon as he opened the envelope and removed the Christmas card from within. The picture reproduced on the card was exquisite. It had a maroon background with a myriad of twinkling stars in gold and silver. However, it was the relief that was painted on top of the starry background that took his breath away.
The relief was in the form of a large parchment with numerous curling edges. The attention to detail was remarkable as you could see the very grain of the parchment as it curled over and the shadows the edges cast on the exposed scene.
High in the clear night sky was the bright star that the wise men were following. It shimmered and seemed to call out, “come hither.” The other stars paled into insignificance, and yet they seemed to have a sparkle of their own.
In the foreground were the wise men seated on their camels approaching from the desert. They were dressed in fine garments each holding a gift in their hands. Such was the detail of their clothing that you could see the weave pattern and the tassels on the edge of their garments. The colouring of each individual garment was in beautiful pastel shades with the sashes and turbans in bright vivid contrast telling the viewer that these were men of importance and wealth.
Their camels were also dressed in finery, and you could see their hoof prints in the soft desert sand. Yes even the granular texture of the sand was faithfully reproduced with high lites, low lites and shadows giving the sand a shifting, shimmering quality.
Before them in the moonlight, lay the town of Bethlehem, heavy with slumber and totally unaware of the momentous event that was about to take place within its borders. The sand stone houses were all shut up for the night and the tall date trees gave off cool shadows.
Simon had never seen such beautiful art work. Placing it on the mantelpiece he stepped back to admire it from a distance. Beautiful, amazing, as if the artist had been there and captured the picture in still life for all eternity.
Smiling he remembered that he had not even turned to the inside to see who had sent the card in the first place. Removing it from the mantelpiece he opened it up and read the special Christmas greetings from Aunty Joan, and then he looked to see who the artist was and tears filled his eyes.
No, he did not know the artist, but what caught his attention were the words: “Wise men”, original mouth painted by X Baibas, published by Association of Mouth & Foot painters.
Turning once again to the beautiful picture he was reminded of the words of Victor Franklin; “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Blind, Helen Keller said it best; “I thank God for my handicaps, for through them, I have found myself, my work and God.”
With moist eyes Simon reflected that his crude stick drawings could never compare with the beautiful mouth painted picture before him, and then he praised God for those who could “triumph in affliction”, as had this painter, producing something of such exquisite beauty for all to see.
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